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The Cyalume

Some further news on chemical lighting.

The Dorset Caving Group, after reading last month's description of the Coolite, kindly sent the editor of the B.B. one of their chemical lights for test and comment.  or which I should like to express our thanks in the B. B. (and also when I write to them more fully).

This light is made by the Cyanamid Corporation of U.S.A. under the trade name of CYALUME.  In spite of the fact that the one I was sent was labelled 'use before Jan '74' it performed extremely well.  For the first four hours, it gave a good light, of the sort that no real caver could possibly complain about in an emergency.  How many  light hours after ignition? it was still enough to grope out of a cave with, and it would have been possible (in a dim enough light) to have recognised it if used as a marker some 48 hours after starting.

Like Dave Irwin, I too am chasing up the answer to the questions involving toxicity etc., and I hope that an article will appear in a later B, B. this year, from one or other of the sources we now have in hand.  One theory which I have heard is that these devices are in actual fact artificial glow-worms, since it is suggested that they use the same method of illumination, which in the case of the glow-worm is known to involve the mixing of two chemicals (originally dubbed Luciferin and luciferase)

The Cyalume is, like the Coolite, a plastic tube which, on being bent, breaks a glass ampoule which float a in liquid 'A' and contains liquid 'B'.  The answer to using them would appear to be best met by two terry clips fixed to the helmet, between which the light can be clipped when in use. This modification to a helmet is cheap and simple to do.  It might just pay to keep the tube inside a piece of copper pipe with two corks to ensure that a nasty thrutch in a cave does not set it off - but this is a refinement.

As a preliminary finding, it would seem not too expensive to keep one of these as an emergency light, but until we know more about them, please be careful about disposal.